Cast iron cookware is a versatile, dependable tool for creating both culinary and confectionary classics in restaurants. When properly maintained, the best cast iron cookware will last a lifetime, with a natural non-stick coating that rivals man-made options. It can be used with any heat source, including induction, ceramic, electric, and gas cooktops, as well as ovens, grills, or even campfires.
How is Cast Iron Cookware Made?
How To Season Cast Iron Cookware
Tip: Never put cold water in a hot or warm cast iron pan because it was cause the pan to warp or crack.
Cast iron should be properly seasoned prior to use. Seasoning cast iron cookware will allow you to cook with less oil, butter, or fat, and it gives your pans a non-stick surface while keeping them from rusting quickly. Plus, less fat means healthier cooking and lower expenses, benefiting both your customers and your bottom line. For more information on how to season cast iron, check out our Pan Seasoning Guide. This video also does a great job summarizing the best way to season cast iron cookware.
Even with the most meticulous maintenance, sometimes bad things happen to good cast iron. Here's how to handle these situations.
What is rust? A red-orange coating forms on the surface of the pan.
Why did this happen? The pan was not properly cleaned, dried, or stored.
Is rust on cast iron dangerous? A little bit of rust on cookware isn't likely to harm you. Effectively cleaning and reseasoning the pan will restore it to a like-new condition, though.
How to remove rust from cast iron: If the entire pan is rusted, you'll need to re-season the whole piece. If only one or two spots is rusted, rinse the pan out with water, dry it thoroughly, heat it up, and rub it down with oil. The rusted spot should become well-seasoned again after a few uses.
How to prevent rust: Properly clean, dry, and store the pan each time you use it.
What is scaling? The seasoning on the pan sloughs off in large flakes.
Why did this happen? You tend to heat the pan too often without adding extra oil to it.
How to remove scale: Once scaling starts, there's no going back. To remedy this problem, you'll need to re-season the pan from the start.
How to prevent scaling: Regularly oil the pan after each use. Do not overheat the pan.
What is it? Food starts sticking to the surface of the pan.
Why did this happen? The seasoning on the pan has worn off.
How to remove stuck-on food: Re-season the pan for a smooth, non-stick surface.
How to make cast iron non-stick: Regularly season the pan to maintain the non-stick surface.
Properly-seasoned cast iron cookware often serves as an ideal alternative to non-stick aluminum cookware. However, it does have its limitations, too.
Cast Iron Pros
Cast Iron Cons
Non-Stick Alumium Pros
Non-Stick Aluminum Cons
Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware
Cleaning cast iron is easy with the right tools for the job.
Cast Iron Cleaning Tips
After cast iron cookware is made, it can be sold as-is, or it can be pre-seasoned or porcelain enameled for added benefits.
Cast iron cookware has hundreds of uses in commercial kitchens. From roasting meats to baking decadent desserts, each piece has its own purpose. Start on stovetop for a nice layer of caramelization from the high heat, then finish in the oven with radiant heat. No matter how you use it, cooking with cast iron is sure to give you an authentic finish.
Can I Put Cast Iron In the Oven?
Cast iron can definitely go in the oven! We're not just talking Dutch ovens or other obvious bakeware pieces, either. Griddles, skillets, even pots can be used in the oven for added versatility! Pop them in the oven to:
As an added bonus, if the oven's temperature fluctuates, the pan's heat will stay fairly constant thanks to the dense cast iron material.
Why Does The Porosity of Cast Iron Matter?
Cast iron is a porous material, meaning it will slowly absorb oil and other food particles, creating the sought-after non-stick sheen. Because of this, you can use less oil when you cook with a well-seasoned cast iron pan, yet still get the non-stick convenience that you want when cooking foods like eggs and pancakes.
Don't cook acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, and wine in cast iron. They react with the metal and can give your dishes a metallic taste.
Cast Iron Heat Retention and Heat Conduction Explained
Thanks to its density, cast iron is one of the best materials at retaining heat. It will keep hot foods, hotter, longer, and it will maintain its heat for quicker recovery between dishes. However, cast iron is not the best conductor of heat. It tends to heat unevenly, creating hot spots in the pan.
Make sure the burner is large enough for the cookware you're using. This will ensure a nice, even heat distribution, since heat conduction isn't on your side when using cast iron. Additionally, make sure you leave enough time for heating the pan properly, before cooking.
Remember: Given proper treatment and time to heat up before use, cast iron holds temperatures extremely well.